Monday, October 21, 2013

Far more than just torii at Kyoto's Fushimi Inari shrine (Photo-essay)

There's no doubt about it -- my first Fushimi Inari shrine photo-essay was heavy on the images of torii, as might be expected of my having visited a shrine with thousands of torii.  But that which may well have been my favorite of all the Kyoto attractions I checked out really does have a lot of other eye-catching structures and other sights.

Something else that I think should definitely be pointed out is that, as Judith Clancy wrote in Exploring Kyoto: On Foot in the Ancient Capital, "Without making the trek to the top of 233-meter [high] Mt. Inari, you really cannot claim to have seen the shrine."  And yes, for the record, I did trek up and down hill, and on a downhill path that crossed paths with the one I took uphill a couple of times, yet offered up a whole host of interesting -- and often also unexpected -- sights nonetheless.

And while I can see how this trek would not be everyone (including the not so fit), one really doesn't see even one tenth of this shrine's sights without venturing past its famous -- and much photographed -- double row of torii -- as I hope that this photo-essay (and the previous one) helps to show:-

   The red headgear on this dragon at one of the shrine's
water ablution troughs doesn't make it look less fearsome!

 At another water ablution spot is an animal
that I know is supposed to be a fox but whose visage 
looks like a great big mouse/rat's to me!!

Upon getting up to the not very structurally impressive 
highest point of the shrine, the saying that
"It's the journey, not the destination" leaps to mind... ;b

 Mt Inari is a sacred Shinto site -- but it 
also is home to a few Buddhist shrines

Still, there's no where near as many Buddha figures on Mt Inari
as torii and also fox head figurines and fox statues!

A praying mantis visited the shrine while I was there! 

I didn't spot any real-life frogs while there -- instead,
I spotted big frog statues placed in positions where 
one would usually expect to see statues of guardian lions! :O 

 And can you see a pig and snake in this photo 
along with foxes, guardian lions and what I'd 
presume is a divine being, even if its form is 
human, and yet more torii?


Bill said...

Hi Yvonne,

After your previous photo-essay of the near-labyrinthian torii, these photos capture an Inari Shinto kingdom full of varied images. I like the Buddhist statues, the enchanting fox statues, the frog statues - all contrasted by a representative of the natural world, the praying mantis.

You're right, the fox statue does resemble a rat. However, if you'll excuse my inbuilt Sino-orientation, whenever I see an image of a fox, I can't help but think of fox spirits in Chinese supernatural literature or film adaptions such as the Painted Skin Hong Kong films.

Of all your Kyoto photo-essays, this is the one I would probably remember the longest.


YTSL said...

Hi Bill --

Interesting that the sight of the fox statue got you thinking of Chinese supernatural literature or films such as "Painted Skin", old and new.

For my part, I got to recalling my visit to the Sasuke Inari shrine in Kamakura -- which, due to be set in greenery, got me thinking of "My Neighbor Totoro"! :b